CASE TITLE: State (National Investigation Agency) Versus Mohd. Yasin Malik, @ Aslam
A Delhi court sentenced Kashmiri leader Yasin Malik to life in prison on Wednesday in connection with a terror funding case. Malik had previously pleaded guilty to all charges in the case, including those brought under the strict Unlawful Activities Prevention Act (UAPA).
The NIA court sentenced him to life in prison under sections 121 of the IPC (waging war against India) and 17 of the UAPA (raising funds for terrorism). Malik had been sentenced to death by the National Investigation Agency (NIA), which was investigating the case. Malik, 56, was also fined more than Rs 10 lakh by the court, which imposed different amounts for the various sections under which he was charged.
Special Judge Praveen Singh also handed down sentences under the UAPA and IPC for a variety of offences. All of the sentences will run at the same time. Malik, the president of the Jammu and Kashmir Liberation Front, was brought to the courtroom earlier under heavy security cover, with paramilitary forces and Delhi Police personnel also present.
On May 19, special judge Praveen Singh convicted Malik and ordered the NIA to assess his financial situation in order to determine the likely amount of fine. Malik faced the death penalty as a maximum penalty, while the minimum sentence for the crimes he committed was life in prison.
Malik had said in court earlier on Wednesday that he has “followed the principles of Mahatma Gandhi” since he renounced violence. Malik also claimed to have met seven Indian prime ministers and stated that no intelligence agency will be able to prove that he was involved in any terrorist activity after 1994 when he surrendered his weapons.
On May 10, Malik told the court that he would not contest the charges brought against him, which included sections 16 (terrorist act), 17 (fundraising for the terrorist act), 18 (conspiracy to commit terrorist act), and 20 (member of terrorist gang or organisation) of the UAPA, as well as sections 120-B (criminal conspiracy) and 124-A (sedition) of the IPC.
The court awarded life imprisonment to Malik for different offences as follows:
— Section 121 IPC (waging war against Government of India) – Life imprisonment and Rs 10,000 fine
— Section 120B IPC (criminal conspiracy) – 10 years imprisonment and Rs 10,000 fine
— Section 121A IPC (conspiracy to commit offences punishable by section 121) – 10 years imprisonment and Rs 10,000 fine
— Section 13 UAPA (punishment for unlawful activities) – 5 years imprisonment
— Section 15 UAPA (terrorist act) – 10 years imprisonment
— Section 17 UAPA (punishment for raising funds for the terrorist act) – Life imprisonment and Rs 10 lakh fine
— Section 18 UAPA (punishment for conspiracy) – 10 years imprisonment and Rs 10,000 fine
— Section 20 UAPA (punishment for being a member of a terrorist gang or organisation) – 10 years imprisonment and a Rs 10,000 fine
Malik will almost certainly file an appeal against the order. But the question is whether his appeal will be heard. Malik has the right to appeal his sentence but not his conviction, according to the law. Malik pleaded guilty, which means he admitted to his wrongdoings.
He will not be able to appeal his conviction as a result of this. In cases where the accused has pleaded guilty, Section 375 of the Code of Criminal Procedure (CRPC) prohibits an appeal. When an accused pleads guilty, there is no right to appeal. Section 375 of the CRPC states that there will be no appeal where an accused person has pleaded guilty and been convicted on that plea, despite anything in section 374.
Malik, on the other hand, has the right to appeal his sentence, questioning its legality.
According to Section 405 of the CRPC, the order of the High Court must be certified by the lower court.
When the High Court or a Sessions Judge revises a case under this Chapter, it or he shall certify its decision or order to the Court by which the finding, sentence, or order revised was recorded or passed, in the manner provided by section 388, and the Court to which the decision or order is so certified shall make such orders as are conformable to the decision so certified; and, if necessary, the record shall be amended in accordance therewith.
The maximum sentence that the court could have given Malik, in this case, was death. The sentence could have been imposed for waging war against the state under Section 121 of the Indian Penal Code.
The court, on the other hand, did not believe that the case was among the rarest or most unusual. The Special NIA court had stated that these would fail the test of the rarest of rare cases due to the manner in which the crimes were committed and the type of weaponry used.
Following the announcement of the sentence, clashes erupted between supporters of Malik and security forces in Srinagar’s Maisuma locality – Malik’s birthplace – amid a citywide shutdown. In some areas, mobile internet services have been suspended, and additional forces have been deployed. “We are concerned that this will exacerbate the region’s uncertainty and fuel further alienation and separatist sentiments.”
“The NIA court has delivered its verdict, but not justice,” said Mohammad Yusuf Tarigami, a spokesman for the People’s Alliance for Gupkar Declaration. The sentence was condemned by Pakistan. “India may be able to imprison Yasin Malik physically, but it will never be able to imprison the idea of freedom that he represents.”
“Life imprisonment for courageous freedom fighters will give a new impetus to Kashmiris’ right to self-determination,” Pakistani Prime Minister Shehbaz Sharif said.